Women Irritated the Painter. Oh Dear

“Woman-Ochre,” after its conservation. It is one of a series of dynamic works by de Kooning that stretched the female figure with slashing brushwork. “Women irritate me sometimes. I painted that irritation in the ‘Woman’ series,” the painter said in 1956. Credit… Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; J. Paul Getty Trust.

John Elderfield, who curated the last big de Kooning survey for the Museum of Modern Art, said that originally the Woman series upset different people in different ways… Some were dismayed by the vulgar treatment of the female form… Elderfield’s take is that the paintings’ power stems in large part from their particular combination of a classic medium and aggressive subject matter. “He was using thick brushes and broad swaths of oil painting in this way in which Venetian painters have for centuries…, traditional techniques to make alarmingly modern paintings, and I think this hybrid quality made people uncomfortable.”

(Jori Finkel, “Sacred or Sexist? After a Brazen Theft, Seeing de Kooning in a New Light,” NYTimes, 5-20-22)

There’s more alarm in the dismay it purportedly caused than there is in de Kooning’s gestural nude itself. Save “vulgar” for the Kardashians.

At the very end, [the conservator] Birkmaier “inpainted” a number of cracks so they are less visible on “Woman-Ochre.” “We did the minimum needed to return the painting to a stage where you can read it properly without noticing damage first.” Credit… Philip Cheung for The New York Times.

The photos detailing the work’s repair provide a nice close-up of pigment, stroke and surface.

One tear in the canvas is located just below the artist’s signature. Here it appears before conservation was complete. Credit… Philip Cheung for The New York Times.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Quotations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Women Irritated the Painter. Oh Dear

  1. Interesting post – I always learn from your posts so thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. janicetv says:

    Not my fav art style, but looks good. I like it

    Liked by 1 person

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